Wild and Free Bulletin


Number 5

December 1, 2003


In this Issue

Heads Up: Cooper Spur Ski Area expansion

The US Forest Service is moving forward with a new master plan for the Cooper Spur Ski Area according to Doug Jones, the USFS permit specialist assigned to the project.  The plan was developed behind closed doors in collaboration with Mt. Hood Meadows General Manager Dave Riley and includes more chairlifts and new clearcut ski runs in the Tilly Jane roadless area.  

Opportunities for citizen involvement

The first opportunity for citizen involvement may come in the next month, when the new Cooper Spur Ski Area plan is expected appear in a scoping letter from the Forest Service. The letter kicks off a NEPA process for public and environmental review.  Public meetings are expected to be held along with a period for submitting comment letters.  An Environmental Impact Statement will follow in which citizen concerns are supposed to be documented and addressed. 

A case example of the NEPA process is provided by another ski area expansion, the Arizona Snowbowl upgrade Proposed Action, in which the Draft Environmental Impact Statement has been delayed until Spring, 2004.

What is at stake

A ski area expansion at Cooper Spur is a threat to the natural heritage of the area that we wish to pass on to our children.  Much has been written about the area's historical interest, wildlife habitat, backcountry recreation, water quality, winter wilderness access, big game migration corridor, old growth forest.  Previous issues of the bulletin begin to describe this area as it exists in its original, wild and pristine state, and the ongoing efforts to protect it.

How to get ready

Citizen involvement in the NEPA process is the way to protect the natural resources on public land at Cooper Spur.  These natural resources belong to all citizens now, but are threatened by corporate- financed, for-profit private exploitation.  

Doug Jones, Permit Specialist
Phone: (541) 352-6002 Ext. 682 
E-mail: dgjones@fs.fed.us 
6780 Highway 35 
Mt. Hood - Parkdale, OR 97041

Holiday Fundraiser


PLEASE support the Cooper Spur Wild and Free Coalition’s activities to preserve the North side of Mt. Hood.

Wreaths $15.00

20 inch, Noble Fir Wreaths with Cedar and Juniper accents, Pinecones and a festive Red bow.

Fruit Gift Baskets $15.00

12 Delicious Premium Pears, 4 Comice, 4 Bosc, 4 Red Anjou from Hood River Valley’s Trout Creek Orchard in an attractive gift box.

To Order: contact comicepear@aol.com or call Mike McCarthy, 1-866-823-8499

Or visit us at REI stores in Tigard and Jantzen Beach on Saturdays from Nov 22 to Dec 20, 10 am to 3 pm.

Pickup at the farm at 8405 Clear Creek Rd, Parkdale, OR 97041 or at REI on Saturdays.

Visit www.troutcreekorchard.com

Letters needed: Historic Tilly Jane Ski Trail at Cooper Spur

In September's bulletin we wrote about the citizen proposal to include the Tilly Jane ski trail in the National Historic registry as an addition to the Tilly Jane/Cloud Cap Historic District.  They describe the omission of the trail from the original 1979 nomination as an oversight and a job left unfinished.  Other features in the area, including the Cloud Cap Inn, Snowshoe Club Cabin, Tilly Jane Warming Hut, and the Cookhouse, were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.

Success of the historic registry application depends on letters of support from the public.  Please take a few minutes to write a letter to:

Mr. James Hamrick & Ms. Christine Curran
State Historic Preservation Office
Parks and Recreation Department
1115 Commercial Street NE
Salem, OR 97301

Please also send a copy to Dennis Chaney dcinv@msn.com who is the citizens' contact person for the proposal.

The deadline for submitting letters will be just after the first of the year, so take the time to write before December 31, 2003.

Your letter might include references to the documented history of the trail, an account of an experience on the trail by a elderly neighbor or friend, or you may describe how you feel to ascend the mountain on the old trail through an ancient forest.

More information about the trail and the historic registry application can be found in the information letter  and history pages on the www.cooperspur.org web site.  The trail's history tells how visitors have always loved and respected the gentle climb through an ancient forest leading to Cloud Cap and the alpine meadows above.  

Hood River County Goal 8 planning update

The Hood River Planning Commission last spring began work sessions on the Goal 8 mapping and ordinance that will determine where in the County a destination resort can be sited without having to go through the normal rezoning process.  The Commission then put the work sessions on hold for the past half-year, while attention was turned to other matters.  

New work sessions on Goal 8 will not begin before January 2004, according to the Chairman of the Planning Commission.  Because the map of lands eligible for destination resorts, with which the Planning Commission began deliberations, was completely discredited due to numerous errors, the Planning Commission will have to generate a new map.  

Goal 8 map flawed

One of the most significant errors is the omission of many farm fields from the map.  This was first observed by several farmers during the hearings before the Planning Commission.  After much prodding, Mike McCarthy and Ken Maddox obtained a copy of the map the consultant had prepared, along with the process he had used.  It was immediately apparent that the consultant had misidentified farm fields that are insured with the Farmers Services Administration as complete farms.  Because the consultant had earlier decided (somewhat arbitrarily) that farms had to be a certain size to qualify as commercial operations, and since many of the fields did not meet the size criterion, he omitted them from the map of commercial farms.  

What then followed was a dogged process to let the county planning commission know of the errors.  Citizens were prevented from having any format input to the planning process at that stage, so Maddox and McCarthy sought informal meetings where they could show the errors in the map to County Commission Chairman Rodger Schock, Planning Director Mike Benedict, and Planning Commission Chairman Bill Lyons.

Next steps

Generating a new Goal 8 map will likely extend the process of the work sessions, which are intended to produced a recommendation by the Planning Commission to the County Commissioners.

The best indication is that the County Commission will take up the Goal 8 mapping, beginning with public hearings, about a month or so after the Planning Commission makes a recommendation.  The timing for those hearings?  Likely spring—perhaps late spring—2004.  

At that time, according to the best information, the County Commission will probably begin a new (de novo) hearing, which means they will take testimony from whoever wishes to testify and it will be considered along with previously submitted materials and testimony.  Or, the Commission can conduct a hearing “on the record:, which means they will consider only testimony and materials already submitted to the Planning Commission.  

So timing and content are somewhat up in the air.  The recent big victory for Ballot Measure 14-15, which would require a public vote before any development of more than 25 residential units in the forest zone, sent a big message that may also affect the next steps in the Goal 8 process.  The best anyone can say is, “Stay tuned!”

1940s North Side Backcountry Ski Adventure

Bud Fields is a lifelong Portland resident and skier. When skiing was coming of age on Mt. Hood in the late 1940s, so was Bud. He was among those who would walk a half-hour to reach the rope tow at Ski Bowl's upper bowl. It took an extra 15 minutes if you were carrying a full gas can, which is what you did when the ski tow ran out of gas. "The lift was fast and dangerous. We used a metal hook to ride the tow."

Once in the summer of 1946, Bud and a friend set out to ski on the glacier above Cloud Cap Inn. They drove to the end of Cloud Cap road, then started hiking. They took several runs down Elliot Glacier. "It was a lot of work to get up there, and it was very dangerous," Bud recounted. They slalomed between crevasses. "We could have ended up in one." When they got to the bottom the district ranger was waiting to chew them out for doing such a dangerous stunt. But it was a peak adventure in a wilderness setting. "No one had ever done it before, and probably no one has done it since."

The Cooper Spur area is unchanged from then to today; you will find the same wilderness setting from Tilly Jane Creek on up that Bud found half a century ago. But don't try to ski on Elliot Glacier, because there is a good chance you would die.

Bud enjoys developed ski areas and plans to make the most of the coming winter season in his seventh decade of skiing. But he was surprised when he learned about the plan to expand Cooper Spur ski area from 50 to 1400 acres. He wondered about the motivation to do it. "It's not very steep. And there's enough ski areas on Mount Hood (already), don't you think?"

Bud Fields on Cooper Spur in 1946

Sources: Bud Fields interview, 11/9/2003; Arthur, Jean, Timberline and a Century of Skiing on Mount Hood, Whitefish Montana: Whitefish Editions, 1998. 98p.

Save the Spur Fall Fest Swings on Alberta 

The doors were opened wide on the Alberta Arts Pavilion on October 25 on the occasion of the Cooper Spur Wild and Free Coalition's "Save the Spur" Fall Fest.  Around a hundred supporters gathered for music and performing arts, catered food and an array of prizes and gifts.  

Penny and Harlan put on a hilarious and poignant puppet show telling the Cooper Spur story and featuring our favorite smooth operator with mirrored sunglasses over his green furry face.  Musical acts by Whiskey Puppy, Schicky Gnarowitz, Children of Paradise and others kept the place hopping until late.  

Event organizers wish to thank all those who help to make the night a success (too numerous to mention!) and all who joined in the fun.  After this night, there can be no doubt that this group knows how to play are hard as they work.

Regular Features

Get Involved!
  1. You have already helped by staying informed about Cooper Spur!  
  2. Forward this Bulletin and encourage friends and colleagues to subscribe.  See Subscription Information below.
  3. Sign up with the Forest Service to receive the Cooper Spur Ski Area scoping letter yourself when it comes out.  See the contact information above.
  4. Write a letter in support of the Tilly Jane Ski Trail's nomination to the National Registry of Historic Places.  Deadline December 31, 2003.  See the information and links above.
  5. Join the Portland or Hood River Volunteer Teams. Contact info@cooperspur.org for more information on how you can get involved.
Come Discover the Lewis & Clark Mount Hood Wilderness

Mount Hood and its foothills in the Columbia Gorge look much the same as they  did to explorers Lewis and Clark 200 years ago. These icons provide Oregonians with clean water, unparalleled recreation opportunities, and a link to our  wild heritage. Unfortunately, thousands of acres of these amazing landscapes remain unprotected - threatened by development, logging, and overuse.

Join Oregon Natural Resources Council and the Sierra Club on a visual  journey through these wild forests and discover how you can help permanently protect them from current threats such as the Cooper Spur ski area expansion and  the new Forest Service proposal to allow clearcuts in the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area.

Presented by the Oregon Natural Resources Council and Sierra Club

Sponsored by  REI

Date Monday, December 8
Time 7:00 p.m. 
Where REI Jantzen Beach
Cost FREE! 


Bark Hike to Hillock Timber Sale

Join Bark on a hike to the Hillock Timber Sale in the Salem Bureau of Land Management (BLM) District.  This sale is in the valley of the South Fork Clackamas Creek on the very western side of the Cascades.  On this hike we will witness the impact of past logging to the area, visit some beautiful stands of old growth which will be impacted by proposed activities, and explore logging methods used in our forests.  This sale is still early on in the process so we have a good opportunity to have an impact on this project.  Approximately a hundred years ago, there was a classic West-Cascade stand replacing fire, making this sale a beautiful example of naturally regenerating native forest. Be prepared for a full day in the forest and hiking on steep slopes.  
Date Sunday, December 14
Time Please arrive by 9:15 so we can check you in, arrange rides and give a brief overview of the day's plans.
Where CARPOOLS LEAVE from the Daily Grind (SE Hawthorne & 40th) promptly at 9:30 AM.
Cost share gas 
Please note Be prepared for a full day in the forest and hiking on steep slopes.  Please bring water, lunch, sturdy shoes, and clothes appropriate for the weather. 
For more info contact Bark at 503-331-0374 or info@bark-out.org

See www.bark-out.org to learn more about Bark's efforts to preserve Mt. Hood National Forest.


Cooper Spur Index

Percentage of registered voters who voted in Hood River County last month

48 %

Percentage of those who voted in favor of measure 14-15 which would require major housing developments in the forest zone that could affect water quality to be referred to voters for approval (Source: Hood River News)

61 %

Number of clean-up sites ordered by Oregon DEQ at Mt. Hood Meadows for petroleum contamination from 1996-1998 (Source: Cascade Resources Advocacy Group)

at least 7

Number of tons of soil excavated 


Grade awarded to Mt Hood Meadows by skiareacitizens.com in their 2003/2004 Ski Area Environmental Scorecard


Ski industry growth in skier/snowboarder visits in past 25 seasons, Pacific West region.  (Source: Kottke National End of Season Survey 2002/03)

0.3 % per year

Growth in Mt. Hood Meadows special use permit area in the same period (Source Friends of Mt. Hood)




For questions, more information, or to volunteer, please contact the Cooper Spur Wild and Free Coalition at info@cooperspur.org.

Subscription Information

The Bulletin of the Cooper Spur Wild and Free Coalition is published periodically by e-mail to registered subscribers.  It may be forwarded in integral form to anyone.  While every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of information presented here, mistakes are possible.  Please forward requests for corrections or clarifications to  bulletin-editor@cooperspur.org.

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